The low, steady rumble you’ll hear emanating from North Georgia on Friday night could be the ever-present drone of cars traveling up and down I-75. But then again, it could be the pounding feet of the die-hard Calhoun and Bremen fans, who have waited all year for the biggest game to be played in Region 6.
Let’s go with the latter rumble. The No. 4 Calhoun Yellow Jackets (7-1, 3-0) will travel to play the No. 7 Bremen Blue Devils (8-0, 3-0) for the Region 6-South sub-region championship.
“I’ll tell you this, Friday night up here, it is going to be that High 5 Sports Game of the Week,” Bremen head coach Davis Russell said. “I’m looking right now, and they are bringing in extra bleachers from all over town. It is fixing to be electric here.”
The series, which dates to 1943, is tighter than you’d expect, with the Yellow Jackets holding a 7-5 margin. The programs played twice in the fall that year, a regular-season game in late October and a playoff game in November.
While Europe was engulfed in war, our troops were fighting for survival on specs of sand throughout the Pacific and Ike, Monty and Churchill were trying to figure out what to do about this “Hitler fellow,” this age-old rivalry was in its infancy.
Bremen won the first four times, both games in 1943 and then in 1950 and 1951. Calhoun’s first victory (18-10) came on Oct. 17, 1952. Since then, the Yellow Jackets have only lost to Bremen once, on Sept. 28, 1990. Calhoun won its region from 1950-53, then didn't win another until 2001. But since then, Calhoun has won every region title it has had a chance to win. That’s 16 in a row.
“There is a reason that they have won as many region games in a row as they have,” Bremen coach Davis Russell said. “It's like 120-something region games in a row. They are just so dang disciplined and fundamentally sound in everything they do. They’re so well-coached, and they are not really complicated. They are just good at what they do. And they still have some really good players, too.”
For Russell and Bremen, it has been a different tale.
The goal has always been to play for championships, and during his season-and-a-half at Bremen, Russell and the Blue Devils have gone from hovering around the center mass of Class AAA to being ranked and undefeated through eight games this season. Bremen’s last loss came last season against Pierce County in the second round of the playoffs.
“It is just exciting for our kids to play in a championship, even if it is a sub-region championship," said Russell, grandson of Erk Russell, a former legendary coach at UGA and Georgia Southern. "When we got here, our goal was to get our kids in situations where they can play for a championship, and we have one at our place Friday night. It’ll be interesting. Everyone around here is real fired up.”
Here's a look at what the the other top 10 teams will be doing this weekend:
-- No. 1 Cedar Grove (8-0, 5-0) vs. McNair (3-5, 1-4): The Saints shut out McNair last season (64-0), and this year should be no different in this Region 5 matchup.
-- No. 2 Peach County (7-1, 4-0) vs. Pike County (6-2, 3-1): The Trojans punished Kendrick 82-0 last week and will carry that momentum into this Region 4 game. Last year Peach defeated Pike 45-7.
-- No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian (off): The Spartans will face Dawson County for the 7-AAA title next week.
-- No. 5 Jenkins (8-0, 5-0) vs. Windsor Forest (7-1, 4-1): The Warriors defeated Windsor Forest 55-28 last season on the way to the Region 3 title.
-- No. 6 Crisp County (6-1, 2-0) vs. Dougherty (2-7, 1-2): Last season, Crisp beat Dougherty 42-6 on the way to the Region 1 title, and you can expect a similar outcome.
-- No. 8 Lovett (5-3, 4-1) at Pace Academy (3-4, 3-2): The presumed No. 2 seed Lovett Lions defeated Pace last season 35-3 in a Region 5 matchup.
-- No. 9 Westminster (3-5, 3-2) vs. Towers (4-4, 3-2): The Wildcats will be looking to get back on track against Towers after losing a Region 5 game to No. 8 Lovett last week. Westminster defeated Towers 44-14 last season.
-- No. 10. Morgan County (7-1, 3-0) vs. Franklin County (2-6, 1-2): Morgan County has not lost a game since Sept. 8 and is coming off a 20-7 victory against Hart County. Last season the Bulldogs defeated Franklin County 38-13 on the way to the Region 8 title.